It took my eyes a minute to adjust the first time I walked into the Interlude Lounge.
When they did, I saw vintage chairs upholstered in red and baby-blue vinyl, a wall covered with gold-streaked mirrors, retro wall sconces and the largest mid-century chandelier I have ever seen.
This is how the place looked when Scott Piotrowski bought it not quite three years ago. It’s probably pretty close to how it looked when the bar opened in 1966.
I liked it. I liked it so much that I’m featuring it as I kick off an occasional series I’m calling “Spotlight on a Dark Bar.”
I was in search of a dark bar last week when I first went to the Interlude, which is in a 1960s-era strip mall at 76th and Pacific Streets. I was meeting a stranger for a drink, a girlfriend of a friend who thought that the two of us had a lot in common and thus should meet.
We made plans via a combination of Facebook and texting. We settled on a time and a quiet, out-of-the-way place, not too far from where she works. It totally felt like a blind date (or at least how I imagined a blind date).
Having never been on a blind friendship date (or a blind date of any sort, for that matter), I was kind of nervous. But one great thing about meeting at a place that has barely changed since 1966 is that the decor alone provides plenty of fodder for slightly nervous hi-I-just-met-you small talk. I mean, the chandelier resembles a UFO.
“It’s a time-warp for sure,” said Piotrowski, a former manager of the Dundee Dell.
Piotrowski was born a decade after the Interlude opened. His dad used to hang out there. He is much younger than many of the most devoted regulars. When I asked him who had done a painting of the bar that hangs near the entrance, he didn’t know, but a regular did (turns out, the artist was a grandson of an original owner). In some ways, Piotrowski said, he feels less ownership of the place than the people who have shown up nearly every day for longer than he has been alive.
“It’s been kind of buying into a family,” he said.
But the Interlude’s almost-never-touched interior (after the citywide smoking ban went into effect in 2008, the previous owner repainted, replaced the carpet and reupholstered the vinyl chairs) holds appeal for younger patrons, too. As the night gets longer, the crowd tends to get younger, Piotrowski said. And the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when every bar in the country is packed, Westside and Creighton Prep alumni have their unofficial home-for-the-holidays reunions at the Interlude (Piotrowski graduated from Prep in 1995).
Piotrowski doesn’t pretend to know why no one has ever remodeled. Or why the Interlude attracts such a mixed crowd — judges, lawyers, sports fans, young professionals, baby boomer couples who live in the neighborhood, 20-somethings. But he figures the throwback vibe of the bar is part of it.
“You can’t put a price on character,” he said.
The stiff drinks — he considers it a compliment when customers ask for more mix — don’t hurt, either.
I ordered a beer, so I can’t speak for the drinks, but I can say that the character won me over (I found the built-in ashtrays in the bathroom and the martini glass incorporated into the sign out front particularly charming).
And I also found the Interlude’s slogan, something I wasn’t aware of until Piotrowski told me, to bode well:
“Where friends meet.”
The Interlude, 7643 Pacific St., is open pretty much every day of the year (Piotrowski has been closed one day in the past three years) from noon to 2 a.m.
Bushwackers Dance Hall and Saloon, a longtime fixture on Ralston’s Main Street, has closed.
I haven’t been able to reach owner Dave Waterman, but the bar’s answering machine message confirmed that the business was no longer open.
“Thanks for calling Bushwackers Dance Hall and Saloon, and I am regretfully saying Bushwackers now is closed until further notice. It is not open anymore.”
The bar and dance hall, which had been at 7401 Main St. in Ralston for more than 25 years, featured live country music on the weekends.
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